City again seeks funding for Lafayette Courts plan 5 of 6 high-rises would be replaced

May 29, 1993|By Michael A. Fletcher | Michael A. Fletcher,Staff Writer

The Housing Authority of Baltimore City once again has approached the federal government for money to demolish five of the six high-rise buildings at the Lafayette Courts public housing project and replace them with town homes.

Department of Housing and Community Development Commissioner Daniel P. Henson III said yesterday that the housing authority Thursday hand-delivered an application to the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development seeking $50 million to help fund the project, which would cost $115 million. The rest of the money would come from state, local and other federal sources, he said.

Baltimore is among 40 cities seeking grants under a $300 million federal program called HOPE VI. Twelve to 15 applications are likely to be funded, Mr. Henson said.

"We're excited by the prospects of this grant proposal," he said.

Mr. Henson said the federal government is likely to make a decision on the city's application by August. Meanwhile, he said, the housing authority will be working with residents at Lafayette Courts to develop a relocation plan for families.

The 38-year-old Lafayette Courts development, on Aisquith Street between Orleans and Fayette streets, has 807 housing units, 129 of which are vacant. Under the plan, the size of Lafayette would be reduced to 460 units, including 282 new town homes. The remaining high-rise building would be renovated for senior citizens and the handicapped.

Like Baltimore's three other family high-rise projects, Lafayette Courts is plaqued by drugs and chronic disrepair. Mr. Henson said those problems are less severe in less dense low-rise housing, which is thus more suitable for family living.

A year ago, the city developed a renovation plan that was presented to HUD but not funded. But officials are more optimistic about the plan's chances now, mainly because the Clinton administration has shown more interest in the cities than the Reagan and Bush administrations.

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